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Mafia Cash Cows: Craigslist Sex Trafficking, Offshore Internet Gambling, and Wind Energy

Written by:
Gilbert Horowitz
Published on:
Feb/09/2011

Following the high profile arrest of 125 alleged Mafia associates, many of you were probably left wondering how the Mob makes money these days.  Some of their exploits were documented in the multi-page complaint against the members.  But Salon.com has a more colorful take on things.  Would you believe Craigslist sex trafficking, offshore Internet gambling and wind energy?

Stayton Bonner writes:

Sure, the Mafia still traffics heroin, extorts businesses, and kills people. But today's gangster—like any good venture capitalist—has adapted to the times. It's not that the Mob is necessarily branching into new industries. It's just that they've pushed age-old breadwinners—prostitution, gambling, and money laundering—to new levels (or depths) in order to compete in an increasingly globalized economy.

The prostitution aspect ties in with poker to some degree.  The complaint against Gambino crime family members alleges that ads were placed on Craigslist for prostitutes, they were driven to appointments across New York and New Jersey, and afterwards, the Mob kept half the proceeds.  Prostitutes would often be made available to participate in high stakes poker games, presumably illegal underground games. 

Wind energy? 

Bonner points out that:

In 2008's Operation "Eolo"—named after the Greek god of winds Aeolus—eight alleged Mafiosi in the Sicilian coastal town of Mazara del Vallo were charged with bribing officials with luxury cars for a piece of the wind energy revenue. Police wiretaps recorded one man saying, "Not one turbine blade will be built in Mazara unless I agree to it."

As far an Internet gambling goes, nearly all the well publicized recent Mob-associated arrests have tied in with online sports betting.  The industry breathed a collective sigh of relief that Internet gambling was not among the more well publicized crimes mentioned as part of the big organized crime bust from a few weeks back.  Nevertheless, there were elements contained in the complaint.  One individual was mentioned as running an online sports betting scheme for a New York crime family charged in the recent complaint.

In 2008, the Queens District Attorney charged the Gambino family with illegal sports and casino-style gambling operations, stating the offshore wires were processed and managed by Lorri's Lounge and Bikini Bar in Brooklyn, whose owner lent money to borrowers at 200 percent interest.

Internet gambling is a multi-billion dollar but organized crime activity is not factored into those numbers since these factions operate mostly underground with the majority of money transfers taking place within the US through agents and other middlemen.

- Gilbert Horowitz, Gambling911.com 

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